Author Archives: Shane Suxho

The Chinese Farmer

E.H. is a 20-year-old Chinese student in my fraternity. He was sharing a few old Chinese stories he used to hear a bunch. His grandma told him this story that she remembered from when her husband (his grandpa) had passed away. He tries to remember this knowledge his grandmother gave to him, since she is getting old and is in her final days. He also looks back on it when he is sad.

E.H.: So there was once a farmer and a son, and they had a beloved horse that helped the family earn a living. One day the horse ran away, and the neighbor said “your horse ran away what terrible luck”. The farmer replied “maybe so maybe not”. A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild horses back to the farm as well. The neighbor shouted out, “your horse returned, and brought several horses with him, what great luck!” The farmer replied, “maybe so, maybe not.” Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the horses, and the horse broke his leg. The neighbors cried, “your son broke his leg! What terrible luck.” The farmer replied, “maybe so, maybe not”. A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the boys for the army. They didn’t take the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg. The neighbors shouted “your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” to which the farmer replied, “maybe so, maybe not, we’ll see”.

As seen in this story, it is really impossible whether to tell whether anything that happens will be good or bad. You will never know what the consequences of misfortune or good fortune will be as only time will tell the whole story. Even if things look great at the start, you can never tell how bad they might get. Same with when things are bad, you never know what good can come out of it. It’s important to remember to just live your life, and not expect too much. Good things come and go, and you cannot get too hung up on the highs or the lows. E.H. explained to me the way he sees this story is if bad things happen, to just ride out the wave, stay humble, and stay balanced.

The Tiger and the Persimmon

E.H. is a 20-year-old Chinese student in my fraternity. He was sharing a few old Chinese stories he used to hear a bunch. His mom told him this story when he was 9 or 10, and she told him this to provide him some guidance and life lessons. It was a way for him and his mom to bond, and this was one of the last childhood stories his mom ever told him.

E.H.: So, deep in the mountains, there is a mother and a newborn child. The newborn child was crying for days and days, and a tiger was roaming outside, he was hungry, he was enormous, his roar would scare all the animals and people away, he was honestly the scariest tiger there ever was. By the time the tiger was roaming around the mountains and heard the baby crying, he thought to himself “what an annoying baby, I am going to go eat him.” So, one day, the tiger hopped into the room and saw the baby, and was about to leap inside, when he heard the mother speak “look a fox” pointing at the scary tiger. She said to the baby “stop crying, stop crying, or he’ll hear you and eat you up.” The baby did not care at all, kept on crying as loudly as he was, probably even louder, and the mother kept on trying to comfort him, saying “look it’s a bear” and yet the child kept on crying and crying. The baby wasn’t frightened at all and kept on crying without the slightest interuption. Finally the mother said “look the big tiger is her, right outside the window”. At that point, the tiger paused, knowing how scary he was, and thought “this baby is going to stop crying, I am the meanest, scariest, angriest animal in the mountains.” The baby, again, kept on crying without the slightest bit of fear. The Tiger is not used to this because he’s used to people being scared and running away when they see him. When he was about to pounce, the mother cried out “look a persimmon”, and again the baby stopped crying. The tiger thought that the persimmon was a creature bigger and scarier than him, so he ran away.

It is interesting how when the baby is crying, it does not stop for the scary animals that would harm him. Instead, the baby stops for a fruit, which then the Tiger then thinks is this insanely scary animal and runs away, since the baby stopped crying for it and not him. It speaks towards the Tigers arrogance, thinking nothing else is stronger and then being scared when he believes something is, even though it was just a fruit. The baby on the other hand is naïve, and doesn’t even know what it is crying about. It does not know the danger by it, and continues on its business. There is something nice about being able to slow down and not worry about the world around you. You can see another version of the story in the book The Tiger and The Dried Persimmon by Janie Jaehyun Park, that has some variations in it.



D.S. is my father, who immigrated here from Albania when he was 18 years old. I always remember him telling me a lot when I was growing up, “an Albanian can die, but his oath will not be violated. I called him up and asked him more about where this phrase comes from.

Me: So is there an Albanian phrase that you got this from?

D.S.: Yes, I never really spoke it to you in the Albanian version since you don’t speak the language hahaha, but in Albanian it is Shqiptarët vdesin dhe Besën nuk e shkelin

Me: So where does it come from?

D.S.: The basic premise of the phrase comes from the concept of a Besa which is like a pledge of honor. In Albania, it is essentially an oath or to keep a promise.

Me: So what is a Besa all about? Is it just a word?

D.S.: The basic premise of the concept is to keep your word, as it is the most valuable thing you can offer. If you don’t have your word, then what do you have?

Me: That sounds familiar hahahaha

D.S.: Exactly hahaha, but a besa can come in all sorts of forms, whether it be a promise, your faith, or protecting someone. It is of the utmost importance in Albania, in all aspects of your life. When you give someone your besa, you cannot go back on it. This is how it has always been, and Albanians really pride themselves on it.

It is really important to keep your word. Breaking a besa is one of the worst things you can do that is not a crime. When you make a promise you need to ensure you give all your effort towards that until it’s fulfilled. Otherwise you are untrustworthy and your self-worth is lowered. Being an Albanian, it is important for me to always remember this in my life.

The Tale of the Eagle


D.S. is my father who immigrated from Albania when he was 18. I called him up to ask him about a story he used to tell me when I was younger about how Albania got its name.

Me: So who had told you this story originally?

D.S.: My grandmother who you never got to meet was actually the first person who had told me this story way back when I was young.

Me: That’s super cool, so how does it go again?

D.S.: So there is a young boy who was hunting in the mountains, when he saw a massive eagle flying above him with a dead snake in its beak land on the side of a cliff at its nest. After a while the eagle left, and the boy climbed up to the nest and saw a baby eagle with the dead snake. But the snake wasn’t dead, so the boy whipped out his bow and arrow and killed the snake, saving the baby eagle. He took the baby and started heading home, when all of a sudden he heard the loud flapping of the giant wings of the eagle. “Why did you take my baby?” the eagle said. “The baby is mine because  I saved it from the snake you didn’t kill”. The eagle then said “give me back my kid and I will give you the sharpness of my eyes and the powerful strength of my wings. You will be called the strongest and by my name”. So the boy handed the baby over, but the baby eagle remained attached to the boy for saving its life. When they were both older, the eagle would follow the boy, who is now a man. The man, who was extrememely powerful from the eagles gift, killed beasts with his bow and slayed enemies of the land with his sword, all while the eagle flew over his head following him. He became the king of the land and he was called Albanian which means son of the eagle, and the land was called Albania, the land of eagles.

The people of Albania have gone through a lot of hardships in their history, so strength is very important to them. This story shows that the people of Albania are strong and powerful, and gifted the strengths of eagles. The story makes Albanians proud of their country, and D.S. told me that during the tough times of his childhood, the story would give him comfort. It reminds me that I am strong because I am Albanian, and makes me proud to be Albanian.